Poland ratified the 2003 Convention on the 8th February 2011 and the ratification document was submitted to UNESCO on 16th May 2011. However, even before the ratification, the Polish National Commission for UNESCO and various institutions had been working on the foreseen implementation of the Convention. Efforts in this regard had been made both by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego, hereinafter: MKiDN), including the Monuments Preservation Department, and by a distinctive body created by MKiDN in 2010, the Intangible Cultural Heritage (hereinafter: ICH) Committee. The Council for ICH was appointed two years after the ratification of the Convention (2013) and is comprised of 20 independent experts in relevant ICH domains. The tasks of the Council include, inter alia, assessment of nominations to the National ICH List, which was launched in the same year (2013), providing recommendations and systemic solutions and priorities for the safeguarding of ICH. The National ICH List is managed by MKiDN, in cooperation with the Council for ICH and the National Heritage Board (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa, hereinafter: NID). In October 2017, 27 elements of ICH have been inscribed on the List, which serves as the national inventory of ICH. In March 2017, the first Polish nomination was submitted to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (the Nativity Scene – szopka – tradition in Kraków).
In the current Polish legislative system, the 2003 Convention is the most important legal instrument devoted to the safeguarding of ICH. MKiDN is responsible for its implementation and NID was designated by MKiDN to coordinate activities related to ICH. Within NID, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Unit was created to look over ICH safeguarding matters. Additionally, 16 NID coordinators were appointed in each region (province), whose tasks include also those devoted to identification and promotion of ICH in the respective regions, as well as to supporting the ICH bearers in activities related to the safeguarding of their ICH.
A Gala Ceremony is organised by MKiDN every two years, to officially hand over the diplomas of inscriptions to the National ICH List. The ceremony is aimed at raising awareness of the role of ICH in the country.
Since the ratification of the 2003 Convention many activities have been undertaken with the aim to promote its ideas and objectives on the local, regional and national level. NID, with the support of the members of the Council for ICH and NGOs, has organized a cycle of workshops, training sessions as well as conferences, focusing on ICH. Thanks to them, many participants gained new skills with respect to identifying ICH, and were trained in safeguarding and promoting it more efficiently.
These activities have raised awareness of the meaning and the role of ICH, and is reflected in the growing number of nominations to the National ICH List, and the new programs and projects aimed to safeguard, identify and promote ICH, including the decision to launch the Register of Good ICH Safeguarding Practices in December 2017.
One of the most important forms of the state support of the broadly-defined ICH is the Minister’s annual program: “Folk and Traditional Culture”. Its aim is to support phenomena related to ICH on the local, regional and national level, present both in rural and in urban areas, relevant for communities, groups and individuals. Part of the program also involves supporting the safeguarding of traditions by national and ethnic minorities, as well as by various specific age groups and various cultural environments.
Ratification of the 2003 Convention inspired and opened new venues for cooperation within the country as well as abroad. This has led to the organization of the First Expert-Level Forum on ICH in Kraków (Poland) in October 2016, involving China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The conference resulted an extensive publication entitled: “Intangible cultural heritage: Safeguarding experiences of Central and Eastern European countries and China. 10th anniversary of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the prism of sustainable development”, published in December 2017.